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Browse > Media Type > Short Stories

80 articles

Alice and the Bear (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Companionship as salvation, Desire to escape, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Short story by Kiyoshi Parker about an old woman whose trip to a Little Tokyo store with her great-granddaughter brings back memories of her camp experience. Alice Miyamoto visits Little Tokyo in Los Angeles for the first time in thirty years with her family. After lunch, her daughter suggests they go visit the Go For Broke Monument. But on the way, her four-year-old great-granddaughter drags her into a store and picks up a stuffed Totoro toy. Alice is immediately reminded of a stuffed bear she had as a child of about the same age that was her constant companion when she was in an unspecified concentration camp.

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Give Us This Day (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Patriotism—positive side or complications, Progress—real or illusion
  • Widely available

Short story by Henry H. Ebihara that presents a hopeful portrait of an Issei couple a year after resettlement. Mr. Sakamoto returns on a winter night from his night shift job at a factory to find his wife waiting for him with a hot meal. They discuss their good fortune, their son in the Military Intelligence Service in Burma, and their leaving the concentration camp with their children a year earlier.

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The Service Flags (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Heroism—real and perceived, Individual versus society, Loss of innocence, Self-reliance
  • Widely available

Short story by Bill Hosokawa about the first days of resettlement of a young mother and her nine-year-old son. Helen Yamano and her son Jamie arrive in an unspecified city, and she hangs two flags, one for her brother who had been killed, presumably as an Military Intelligence Service linguist, and one for her husband, who is serving in Europe in the 442nd. Her first days on the job are difficult, as one of her co-workers makes trouble for her. Jamie is called a "Jap" by one of the boys on his first day of school. Helen tells him that like his father, he needs to fight to be accepted, and the next day he does.

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The Man with the Bulging Pockets (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Fulfillment, Greed as downfall, Optimism – power or folly, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Short story by Toshio Mori centering on an old man at Tanforan who becomes enormously popular with children by passing out a seemingly limitless supply of candy to them on his daily walks around the camp. His actions and popularity inspire jealousy in another old man, who also begins passing out candy, while spreading bad stories about the first old man. The story originally appeared in the 1944 holiday edition of The Pacific Citizen and was republished in Mori's 1979 short story collection The Chauvinist and Other Stories and in slightly different from, as a part of his 1978 novel Woman from Hiroshima.

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"Iwao-chan!" (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Everlasting love, Motherhood
  • No availability

Short story by Yachiyo Uehara about a Nisei woman's bond with her deceased Issei mother in the years after the war. As the story begins, Yachiyo is on a plane from New York to San Francisco around 1950 with her two-year-old son Andy, the first time since the war years that she would be returning to her hometown. She will be moving there, initially staying with her Issei father. She is saddened that Andy will never meet her mother, whom she last saw in 1944 when she left Heart Mountain for New York and who subsequently died after they returned to San Francisco. She is relieved that her father, who dislikes children, tolerates Andy and even seems to like him. But she is also concerned about the dangerous stairs leading to the small house. She finds that despite her death two years prior, her mother's presence permeates the house. One ...

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The Travelers (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Desire to escape, Optimism – power or folly, Power of silence
  • Widely available

Short story by Toshio Mori centering on two groups of inmates as they leave Topaz. One group of nine are those leaving the camp permanently to "resettle" in areas outside the restricted area of the West Coast; the other group consists of those who are visiting town briefly to shop or to see off relatives before returning to the camp. Those leaving for good includes a soldier leaving for the battlefront and being seen off by his mother, as well as those leaving for jobs in cities such as New York and Chicago. As the resettlers exchange information about their destinations, the soldier is drawn to an attractive young woman heading to Chicago, but does not speak to her. After the train leaves, a white family offers a ride to town to the mother of the soldier. "The Travelers" originally appeared in the Topaz literary publication All Aboard in 1944 ...

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A Session at Tak's Place (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Adult
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Companionship as salvation, Importance of community, Optimism – power or folly
  • Widely available

Short story by Manzen (Tom Arima) about four old Nisei men discussing the future of the Japanese American community and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). Tak, a 65-year-old retiree, wakes up one morning with an uneasy feeling after a late night JACL meeting the previous evening. His close friend Nobe, a JACL lifer, drops by to talk about the meeting, and they are soon joined by two more friends, Joe and Mits. The four talk about the role they and the JACL should take in the implementation of the recently passed Civil Liberties Act of 1988, what to make of a recent JACL resolution to investigate the organization's actions regarding the so-called "No-No Boys," and the role of the JACL. After a spirited discussion, Tak feels much better and is grateful for the men's friendship.

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The Legacy of a Cemetery (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Reunion, Wisdom of experience
  • Limited availability

First person reflections on a trip back to his hometown of Los Angeles by a man who had settled in New Jersey after leaving the Jerome, Arkansas, concentration camps some thirty years earlier. A visit to Evergreen Cemetery east of downtown Los Angeles brings back memories of his forced removal in 1942, remembrances of Nisei soldiers he knew who are buried there, and memories of his deceased family members.

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When Your Body Has Been Rolled in Thorns (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Facing reality, Loss of innocence, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Short story by Ferris Takahashi about a Japanese American family leaving a concentration camp to return to their old home in Los Angeles. Told from the perspective of a college educated Nisei husband and father of two young children, the story begins as they gather up their possessions and prepare to leave the camp. Yosh, a friend who had returned earlier and was able to reestablish his business, greets them at the train station. When they return to their home, they find it trashed and vandalized, with all the furniture gone. They also learn that the Buddhist temple in which they had stored other possessions had burned down. Yosh and his family offer to put them up until they can fix their house. Returning to look more closely at the house after dinner, the man and his Issei mother find racist graffiti. His mother assures him that they will rebound.

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Snapshot, 1944 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Power of silence, Power of the past, Wisdom of experience
  • Limited availability

Short story by David Mas Masumoto told in the first person voice of a Sansei young adult reflecting on the meaning of an old snapshot of his father's family taken at Gila River in 1944. The occasion is the funeral of his Uncle George, killed as an American soldier in the war. In the photo, the narrator's grandfather holds a flag and his grandmother holds a picture of George, while his father and aunts and uncles stand uneasily to the side. The narrator writes in turn about the postwar fates of his grandfather, who died before he was born; his grandmother, who lives with the family, but suffers from dementia; and his father, who struggled to buy a farm after the war and now grows raisins and other crops on eighty acres. Each in his her own way remains as silent to the narrator as in the photograph.

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Kubota (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Power of silence, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

Short story/essay centering on the author's maternal grandfather, whom everyone called by his last name, Kubota. A Kibei from Hawai'i, Kubota had graduated high school in Hiroshima before returning to become a successful shopkeeper and community leader—as well as an avid fisherman—on Ō'ahu's North Shore prior to the war. Arrested by the FBI on the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kubota was one of the relatively fortunate ones, having been taken to Honolulu for questioning, but released after just a few days. Years later, Kubota lives with the author's family in Gardena, California, and repeatedly tells the teenager his World War II story, urging him not to forget it and to be his chronicler. The author is puzzled to find that other Japanese Americans not only didn't care to hear this story but were very reluctant to talk about their wartime exclusion and incarceration. After his grandfather's death, ...

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Memories of Pop (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Forgiveness
  • No availability

Short story by Jiro Saito about a young college dropout Sansei returning home to San Diego for the funeral of his estranged father. Written in the first person voice of Mas Mayeda, it is set in around 1960. As the story begins, Mas gets a call from his sister Rose informing him of their father's death. Disowned by his father after dropping out of UC Berkeley's engineering program to become a writer, Mas had not seen the family in three years. Upon his return, Rose tells him that their father, though stubborn, indicated that he wanted Mas to return. Before the funeral, Mas sees old family photos that tell their story: his parents' wedding in 1927 (his Issei father married a Nisei woman from San Diego); a successful farm; his father becoming a community leader; his father's subsequent arrest after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the family's removal and ...

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O Furo (The Bath) (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Beauty of simplicity, Fulfillment, Nature as beauty
  • Available

Short story by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston about an elderly woman in an unspecified American concentration camp during the World War II. Yuki, a seventy-three year old widow, lives with her grandson, Dixon, a separate barracks room away from the rest of the family. When the falling snow reminds her of Japan, she prevails on Dixon to help her build a Japanese style furo, which they accomplish using scrap lumber and a discarded metal drum. Sitting in the tub, she reflects contentedly on her life.

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Time of Decay (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Desire to escape, Family—blessing or curse, Loneliness as destructive force, Losing hope
  • Widely available

Short story by Ferris Takahashi of an Issei woman whose family puts her in a cold nursing home against her will at the end of her life. Told from the perspective of the woman, she recalls her forced removal and incarceration in unspecified concentration camps and other episodes in her life.

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Otoko (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Immigrant experience, Loss of innocence, Role of men, Vulnerability of the meek
  • Widely available

Short story by Wakako Yamauchi centering on a Nisei brother and sister who recall their father and their family's prewar and wartime hardships while listening to Japanese folksongs. On the longest day of the year one summer, Kiyo visits his sister, the narrator, bringing a record of Japanese children's songs. The act of listening to the songs triggers memories of their early years. Once relatively prosperous, their fortunes turn dire quickly when their father loses his job. He becomes a tenant farmer, but can't make enough to support the family. Kiyo recalls a time when he went with his father to visit a friend, Kiyo thinks, to ask to borrow money. The narrator recalls working as a "school girl" with a white family for a few months, returning to find her family living in a tent, her little sister's teeth rotting, and her father suffering from a stomach ailment. Later, ...

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Sushi (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Loss of innocence, Power of the past, Coming of age
  • Limited availability

Short story by Rei Noguchi about a young Japanese American girl who learns about the wartime incarceration from an Issei woman neighbor. It is a cold New Year's Eve in Dover, New Jersey, and Maya Okano has been dispatched by her parents to return a plate to a woman they call Grandmother Okamoto. The older woman, who is making sushi for New Year's, is happy to see the girl and serves her tea. Maya tells Grandmother Okamoto that she doesn't like sushi or Japanese food in general, preferring "American" food. Grandmother Okamoto sends Maya into the bedroom to fetch a can of nori from the dresser; when she does, she sees a little shrine on the dresser and the photograph of a young man in military uniform in front of barracks. When Maya asks, Grandmother Okamoto tells her about her son, who was killed fighting (presumably in the 442nd Regimental ...

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Both Alike in Dignity (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Reunion, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Short story by Chester Sakamoto about an elderly Holocaust survivor who mistakenly gets off the bus in Little Tokyo, where he meets an elderly Nisei man. One Sunday, on his weekly visit to a friend in Pasadena, Mr. Muncznik gets off the bus too early and ends up in Little Tokyo. Sitting to get his bearings, he finds himself next to a statue of a Japanese man. Friendly Mr. Sata stops and explains that it is a statue of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who risked his career and safety to help thousands of Jews escape Lithuania during the war. Conversation ensues about each man's wartime experience—Mr. Sata had lived in Little Tokyo before the war and had been sent with his family to Heart Mountain—revealing a startling coincidence.

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Doka B-100 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Character – destruction, building up, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Ernest Nagamatsu on the difficult adjustment to civilian life of a group of World War II veterans. Written in the first person voice of an ex-GI named Hamamoto in 1954, "Doka B-100" coveys both Hamamoto's alienation and the welcoming embrace of Little Tokyo Los Angeles. Estranged from his domineering father because of the way he left the service (despite serving heroically in the 442nd, he quit before his time was up) and his choice of social work as an occupation, Hamamoto's wife had decided to go back to her family in Chicago with their daughter to get away from the arguments. Finding a small apartment in Little Tokyo and a part time job in a diner, he finds a niche in starting to counsel the veterans who would gather in a Little Tokyo pool hall. That work eventually leads to a paying job with the Veterans Administration. ...

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The Day After Today (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Facing reality, Losing hope
  • Widely available

Very short story by Toshio Mori (called "A Sketch") about an Issei man at Topaz who worries about what will happen to him and his wife when they are forced to leave the camp, since they have no children to help support them. He envies neighbors who have resettled children they can stay with in the Midwest and East. Published in the Pacific Citizen in February of 1945, the story captured the anxiety many Japanese Americans felt with news that the concentration camps would be closing by the end of the year.

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Masao and the Bronze Nightingale (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Expression through art, Lost love, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Rubén "Funkahuatl" Guevara about a Nisei zoot suiter and saxophone player in East Los Angeles before and after World War II. Masao Matsui and his buddies Lil' Joe Casillas and Isamu Imoto grow up in Boyle Heights playing jazz and dressing in elaborate zoot suits prior to the war. Masao dreams of leading a band one day. His dreams are interrupted by World War II and his forced incarceration at Manzanar. He passes time playing jazz records and plays in the Jive Bombers in camp. After the war, he returns to Little Tokyo and works as a janitor, while soaking up the local jazz scene that sprang up there as part of "Bronzeville," the African American settlement that formed during the war. Then, one night at a club, he meets a dazzling singer who called herself the Bronze Nightingale, and his life is turned upside down.

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Mackerel Sky (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Immigrant experience, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • No availability

Short story by Jeff Matsuda in which a young Sansei man recalls various stories about his Issei grandfather: visiting him and his grandmother when he was a child; recreating the old man talking about his youth in Japan and his early years as a laborer in the U.S.; and visiting him with his mother when he was in college, and his grandfather was a nearly deaf old man. In the process, the narrator recalls his grandfather's internment: as a fisherman on Terminal Island, he was arrested a week after Pearl Harbor and sent to Bismarck and then to an unspecified camp in New Mexico, while the rest of his immediate family spent the war years in Japan.

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The Summer of '43 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Individual versus society, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Short story centering on Akira Koyama, a Nisei man who has left an unspecified concentration camp to attend college in Utah. There, he stubbornly tries to find a summer job in the face of rampant discrimination. After being turned down for a draftsman position because of his ancestry, he visits a laundry owned by an acquaintance's family in search of other leads. Meanwhile, Dale, a white navy veteran and one of his college roommates, suffers from stomach pains that resemble appendicitis. Akira accompanies him to the hospital and waits as Dale has successful surgery. After a conversation with the doctor, Akira is offered a job at the hospital.

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Starting from Loomis (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Injustice
  • Widely available

Autobiographical short story by Hiroshi Kashiwagi that traces his life from his childhood on farms in the Loomis, California, area, his family's forced removal and incarceration at the Marysville Assembly Center (which Kashiwagi refers to as "Arboga," an alternative name) and Tule Lake, and his decision to answer "no-no" to the loyalty questionnaire both out of anger and protest and in alignment with the rest of his family. While describing the difficult conditions of concentration camp life, the narrator—who was two years out of high school at the time—takes his first tentative steps in the world of theater and literature while in camp. His father's absence from the family from prior to the war due to tuberculosis looms large. Written from the perspective of an old man looking back at his youth, the story ends with the lifelong ramifications of his wartime incarceration and his "no-no boy" status.

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Unfinished Message (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Motherhood
  • Available

Seemingly autobiographical story by Toshio Mori about his mother and brother. The story begins in 1945 in Topaz, where the author's mother can't sleep one night because of anxiety about her son, who is serving in Europe. She later finds out that he was wounded in battle that night. Later, they arrange for his transfer to a hospital in the U.S, deciding on one near the family home in California. When they leave camp and return home, she is able to visit him at the hospital. However, she later dies in her sleep before her son is released. After her death, the author and his brother hear tapping on the window of the room in which she died, which they interpret as her message to them. Written by Mori in 1947, the story was first published in his 1979 short story collection, The Chauvinist and Other Stories and reprinted in ...

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Floating Home (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Facing reality, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Reunion, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story about a family returning to Little Tokyo from Rohwer. When fourteen-year-old Mari returns home with her parents, she expects to go to their old house, but is dismayed when they go to a run down residential hotel instead. Her father explains to her that they had rented the house they had lived in before the war, and they it was now being rented to someone else. Mari decides to walk to the house to take a last look. She finds an African American girl about her age on the swing in front. Initially suspicious, the girl becomes friendlier when Mari tells her why she and her family had to leave and invites her inside.

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